I’d like to switch gears to a new topic, one which is of high interest to many readers of this blog. I know, because you told me in the survey I ran several weeks ago. One of the most-wanted topics was the question of “How do I write faster?”
Today, we’re going to start talking about that. I’d like to begin with a guest blog from a friend of mine, Susan Meissner, who has several books under her belt. First, a little about Susan:
Susan Meissner, who began writing novels in 2004, is the author of eight published works, with two more to be released in 2008. When she’s not writing at breakneck speed, she is directing the small groups ministry at her church, mothering her four kids, and enjoying good coffee and great books with her husband, Bob. You can find out more about her at her web site at www.SusanMeissner.com.
I asked Susan to write a short article about one of her favorite topics, “300 Pages in 30 Days.” This seems very apropo, in light of the recent National Novel Writing Month, where budding writers are challenged to write 50,000 words in 30 days. That works out to about 200 pages, so Susan is upping the ante by about 50%! Here’s what Susan wrote:
300 Pages in 30 Days
I’ll be honest here from the get-go. I never intended to write 300 pages in 30 days. It was never a plan of mine to do such a thing. I also never planned to write ten novels in five years, though that’s what I’ve done. None of these books were old Works-in-Regress; I didn’t have any half-finished projects sitting in drawers turning maizey with age. All the concepts were new at the time I began writing.
There was no bold plan to pump ’em out at lightning speed to make a point. I wasn’t in a race, and I wasn’t trying to prove anything to anyone. It just happened.
After my fourth novel in less than two years was published, people began asking me how I write so fast. The answer I first came up with was short and to the point: “I don’t know.”
Because in the beginning, I didn’t. It was just the way I wrote. But because wide-eyed people kept asking, I decided to analyze the way I churn out a book from inception to the last page. And this is what I now share with people and workshop audiences and inquiring minds who want to know. This is how I write 300 pages in 30 days. My way isn’t the easy way to write a book. It’s not the best way to write a book. I don’t even recommend it over another way. But if you want to know how a novel can be written in less time than it takes to grow a mullet, I can tell how it can be done. If you want to know how to make the most of your writing time, how to remove distractions, how to let the story flow, how to avoid those deathly “Now what?” writing scares, I can tell you that, too.
I wrote my first novel in 10 weeks, my second in eleven, the third in eight and the fourth, in 30 days. No, I wasn’t working a fulltime job at the time, just part-time hours. Yes, I still had kids at home who wanted dinner and clean socks everyday. And no, it wasn’t a walk in the park. It was hard work, as is the writing of any book in any time frame.
Because my books were written so quickly, they must be fluff reading; sixth-grade level prose that is incapable of leaving a lasting impression, right? I won’t be the judge of that, but I will say my second novel, A Window to the World, was named to Booklist’s Top Ten Christian Novels for 2005. Two were finalists in the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year contest, and my ninth, Blue Heart Blessed, which releases in Feb ’08, was just reviewed by the hard-to-please folks at Publisher’s Weekly, and it received a moderately enthusiastic thumb’s up. I think they very nearly liked it.
I am not a champion of writing at microwave-oven speed, nor do I pooh-pooh crock pot writers who let a book marinate and stew for years before they declare it’s finished. I am however a champion of writing at the speed that fits your style. This one fits mine. And if you are frustrated with your writing speed not meshing with your writing style, then maybe you’ll want to consider my way and see if it’s for you.
The secret to producing 300 pages of quality stuff in 30 days is really no secret. It’s the same dynamic that makes any big project that comes together in an abbreviated time span a success. It starts with a “P.” Want to hear more?
Randy sez: Yes, we’re dying to hear more! Tell us, Speedy Susie!